Colonel Caleb Hopkins

In 1789, a 19-year-old man named Caleb Hopkins came to this part of New York State and settled originally in what would become Penfield. His family had been in America for 169 years - his great-great-great grandfather having been a passenger on the Mayflower. Caleb's first home in this Genesee Area was a log cabin near Indian Landing on Irondequoit Bay. There he married Dorethea Mabee, daughter of long time friend, Jacobus Mabee.

By the turn of the century, Caleb Hopkins and his wife moved to the Northfield area. He was an ambitious man and began making a career for himself in the army. In 1804, Hopkins was commissioned a lieutenant of militia by Governor Clinton, and in 1807 Governor Morgan Lewis made him a major.

In 1808, Major Caleb Hopkins was appointed Supervisor of Boyle to fill an unexpired term. In 1809, he was elected to the position and also appointed by President Madison as the United States Inspector of Customs and Collector of the Port on the Genesee River. He was bridge commissioner when the first bridge was built across the Genesee near Avon.

On April 13, 1813, Governor Tompkins appointed Caleb Hopkins Colonel of the 52nd Regiment of Militia of the State of New York. Hopkins had served at the Niagara Frontier under General William Wadsworth. He fought in several battles and skirmishes, receiving shoulder wounds. His officers and men regarded him as one of the bravest men in the army, the hero of his hometown and its leading citizen.

Through his military career and his service in the town government, Caleb Hopkins became well known to his fellow townspeople. So, in 1814, when Smallwood had again become an unwieldy size and it was decided to divide it once more, the town awarded Hopkins a great honor. One section of the split became Brighton and the honor of naming the remaining land was given to Colonel Caleb Hopkins. On March 21, 1814, Caleb chose the name Pittsford after his childhood home of Pittsford, Vermont. This coincided with Caleb being commissioned a lieutenant colonel.

The year after the town of Pittsford was renamed, Caleb was honored again. This time, for his gallant service defending the Port of Charlotte against the British during the War of 1812; he was made a Brigadier General. Shortly thereafter, when peace with Great Britain was assured, Hopkins resigned his commission and purchased a farm at 3151 Clover Street. This homestead and farm has remained in the family to this day and is diligently farmed by Caleb’s descendants.

Caleb Hopkins died in 1818 at the age of 47. Both he and his wife, Dorothea, are buried in the Pioneer Burying Ground on South Main Street. Despite his short lifetime, he left a lasting memorial. A portrait of Colonel Hopkins hangs in the homestead and a photograph of it has been made available to be hung in a prominent place in the Pittsford Town Hall.